17.01.04 - By Jeffrey Day: Tonight at the DM-Arena, Karlsruhe Germany, Mexicoís Julio Cesar Gonzalez defends his WBO light-heavyweight title for the first time against German based, but Hungarian born Zsolt Erdei. For Gonzalez, it will mean a return to the country where he won his championship against long reigning incumbent Dariusz Michalczewski in October last year. Gonzalez was given his opportunity against Michalczewski on the condition that should he win he would have to return to Germany to make the first defence.
Article posted on 17.01.2004
It should be remembered that Dariusz was making his 24th defence against Gonzalez and was strongly favoured to take his unbeaten record to 49 fights. However, Julio showed no psychological scars from his one-sided points defeat at the hands of all-time great Roy Jones in July 2001, when he showed tremendous courage in adversity.
Since that defeat, Gonzalez has won eight straight, including wins over Joseph Kiwanuka and Glencoffe Johnson. Johnson is soon to meet Britainís Clinton Woods for the vacant WBC title and was beaten by Gonzalez by majority decision a year ago.
The victory over Michalczewski took the Mexicanís record to 35-1 (22 inside schedule). He is a respectable rather that hard puncher and at 6 feet 2 inches will be four inches taller than his challenger as well as seven inches in reach. The jab will be the key if Julio is to succeed, although the uppercut that was so effective when winning the title should be utilised. Having shared the ring with the two best light-heavyweights of the last decade, Erdei should not strike too much fear into the championís heart.
At 27, Gonzalez is in or around his prime and also has wins over Tony Menefee (conqueror of an ancient Roberto Duran) and fierce punching Julian Letterlough in a war. Gonzalez has been a professional since April 1997, nearly four years longer than his challenger and had four bouts last year so his timing and fitness should be good.
He meets a former world amateur champion in Zsolt Erdei, who remarkably is two years older than the champion, but has had exactly half the fights. At 18-0 (13 inside schedule) Zsolt, as you would expect from his amateur record, is technically excellent, but of course the pro game is significantly different from the amateur code.
He has had the majority of his professional fights in Germany and although he was a very experienced amateur. There is also the revenge factor, as Zsolt is the stablemate of Michalczewski.
Erdeiís last fight was a first round win over Ramdane Serdjane of France in November. His best win is probably the 12 round decision earned over Spainís Juan Nelongo Perez in September. The victory over Nelongo was only his second pro fight in the country of his birth. Zsolt has also performed at the Trump Taj Mahal and the Mandalsy Bay in the USA. He is mobile and has good hand speed.
However, having shared 12 rounds with the incomparable Jones and having won in Germany in his last fight against an outstanding and long-reigning champion, it is hard to envisage Gonzalez losing his bauble. It has to be Gonzalez by hard fought and probably split decision.
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